From Origami Yoda to ART2-D2


Sometimes people ask how I choose the Origami characters for my books. The odd thing is that they sort of choose me. Yoda was the start of the whole thing. I wasn’t sitting in front of blank computer screen wondering what to write about…I was actually folding an Origami Yoda. The book was inspired by the origami, not the other way around. And if the origami hadn’t fit on my finger like a puppet, none of it would have happened.

Once that book came out, I personally would not have thought of doing a Darth Vader book. But EVERYBODY else did. It was clear Origami Darth Vader was what they wanted. And I realized…they were right! It just made sense that the “villain” from Origami Yoda would fold a Darth Vader and seek revenge! Only after writing the entire book about Origami Darth Vader, did I think: OH! Darth PAPER! (Ctrl-F: Find and Replace fixed that.)

Han Foldo 2

After that I could see where the story was heading and wanted to fill out the story arc. But I didn’t know how. Then I got an email from another author, Jay Asher, who had an international mega-hit with a very serious book about teen suicide, 13 Reasons Why. Turns out he’s not serious all the time. He had a funny idea for me: What if someone made a paper fortune teller and called it a Fortune Wookiee? Now, I get A LOT of suggestions, but this one made my brain explode! Fortune Wookiee was the right character at the right time! Before I knew it the book was almost writing itself, especially once Han Foldo showed up to translate.

Then came the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do: a how-to book, full of doodles, origami, and a few really weird projects, like making art prints from your Star Wars toys. I worked on it with Origami Yoda as the star of the book…again. It just felt redundant. But who else could be our guide through all this crazy art stuff? One minute I had nothing and the next minute it was in my head: ART2-D2. (With substantial help from C-3PO.)


In each case, I’ve used the character that was right for the story. That’s important to me. A lot of people want Boba Fett, for example, but I just don’t see how he fits into the story of life at McQuarrie Middle School. Maybe someday he will but not right now.  I always need to remember that it’s not me that makes the origami, it’s the characters in the books. And the characters can sometimes surprise me…

That’s what happens with the NEXT book. (Which I’m not allowed to tell you about yet.)  It was supposed to be one character, but the book grew and changed and soon I was sure that a different character would be the right choice. But like I said, it’s a surprise!

Get a sneak peek of ART2-D2 at and join Tom for a online release event Tuesday, March 26 at 5 p.m. ET.

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